Whether it’s Captain Kirk’s iconic “Beam me up, Scotty” or Mike Teavee whizzing through the air in a million little pieces compliments of Wonkavision, teleportation has always occupied a fascinating seat within the grandstands of pop culture.
Science has not yet caught up to the fiction of beaming a person or object between two places, however, quantum teleportation is no fantasy. In fact, it’s been proven so many times that an international space race to develop quantum teleportation in currently underway.
In the past year, a team of Chinese researchers and another group
from Austria set new records for beaming bits of subatomic information and particles. Both teams used a
laser to transport photons through the air over 60 and 89 miles,
Considering the previous record, set in 2012 by the Chinese team, was
10 miles, such exponential growth in such a short time has scientists
and space agencies reaching for the stars.
“There’s basically a race going on to get into space first with a
quantum satellite,” Thomas Jennewein, a physicist at the University of
Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, told Wired.
The Chinese space agency has plans to launch a satellite with quantum
teleporation capabilities in 2016. European, Japanese and Canadian
space agencies also have plans to launch similar projects in the coming
Bringing up the rear in race is the U.S., whose quantum communication programs have stumbled in recent years, largely due to bureaucratic reshuffling that left research projects without government support in 2008.
“There’s been a four-year gap and the world doesn’t stand still,” said physicist Richard Hughes of the Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “It’s interesting how strong China has become in the last four or five
years in the international science scene — they’ve really come along
Credit: VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/Science Photo Library/Corbis